Keeping up with the Milibands

The launch of the Apple Watch last week brought with it that overwhelming feeling of ‘need’ that washes over me every time Apple hold a press conference.  Of course, I don’t really need a watch to tell me what my two smartphones, tablet, and activity tracker already do… But it’s so shiny! And I’d really like to send people doodles…

The fact is, we’re all connected for all, if not the majority, of our waking hours. Checking emails and social, altering our images on the move, reading the news, glancing at the latest weather or public transport updates, streaming music, recording how many steps taken via our Jawbone, checking home security cameras on the move, finding a date, following recipes… The list really is endless! And god forbid the broadband goes down, or something starts to buffer as we settle down to watch it!

The very fact that this consumer technology is so mainstream and almost an extension to our person is something that still surprises me. I vividly remember the noise of dial-up internet, whereas now I can ‘Google’ on my TV while lying in bed! And the fact that even my mum knows how to stream films from her iPad via an Apple TV to the main TV genuinely blows my mind. She’s probably reading this too (hi mum!)

It’s not just hipsters, ‘geeks’ and early adopters anymore. Samsung had a primetime advert reporting live from MWC during a Good Morning Britain adbreak. You can’t get more mainstream! Technology really has permeated all aspects of our day to day life. I can’t imagine a Sunday without an American drama taking up at least two hours of my day. And it’s really useful knowing exactly where I parked because I logged it on an app!

Just this week the Office for National Statistics revealed the nation’s changing shopping habits with the Basket of Goods 2015. The basket is seen as a vital barometer and the best possible measure of inflation, but it also provides some fascinating insight into the nation’s changing culture, as well as improvements in tech.

Of the 13 new items added to this years list, it’s clear to see that the tech domination reigns supreme. Streaming music subscriptions, e-cigarettes, games console online subscriptions, headphones and mobile phone accessories (chargers, covers, external speakers) have all been added to the list. Only eight items, including the SatNav (and frozen pizza and yoghurt drinks!) have been removed from the basket, owing in part to the rise of smartphone apps, and new cars having these systems on board. One could also surmise that home delivery takeaway services have had an impact here too – when was the last time you ordered pizza by phone? There’s an app for that! I was also pleased to see the inclusion on two of my personal favourites in the basket – protein powder and sweet potato, but that’s probably for another post.

This week George Osborne’s budget announcement also revealed plans for further investment in technology and funding for initiatives that link home appliances to the internet – the Internet of Things, really taking it to the masses! According to the The Guardian, the chancellor pledged £40m for the internet of things, which allows devices to be controlled by a smartphone or tablet, alongside a £600m investment in freeing up spectrum to be used for wireless broadband and £7.4m to provide Wi-Fi access for libraries in England. The budget also committed to implementing simpler digital systems to file tax returns, prevention against cryptocurrency crime and investment in a research centre for Internet of Things projects… Phew!

As the ONS says, how many people had heard of music streaming subscriptions and e-cigarettes just a few years ago, let alone the Internet of Things? And where next? Just yesterday I read an article about the future of wearable drones. Perhaps next year activity trackers will make the list? Or maybe more connected home technologies – I’d love to get myself connected to Hive to ‘control my heating at home’, and maybe even switch on the Nutribullet, and run the bath too?

So what devices would you most like to connect with from your tech?

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